News / Africa

    Sierra Leone Uses New Device to Improve Power Supply

    A "System Classic" device that detects faulty cables, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 24, 2013. (Nina deVries for VOA)
    A "System Classic" device that detects faulty cables, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 24, 2013. (Nina deVries for VOA)
    Sierra Leone's National Power Authority [NPA], which is responsible for providing the country with power, has deployed a new device that can detect faulty underground cables. The hope is to help provide electricity around-the-clock through the use of this equipment. It will have a great impact on Sierra Leoneons, who face blackouts on a regular basis.

    People in Sierra Leone have been without consistent power since the 1980s. That was when demand for power began to increase. Then in 1991, civil war broke out, lasting 11 years. It left the country in shambles. Many power facilities were destroyed and people migrated to Freetown, the capital. This increased the population even more and caused higher demand than NPA could handle.

    In Freetown, blackouts can occur on a daily basis and parts of the country still have no power at all.

    December is the most festive season for Sierra Leone, and music can be heard all over as carnival parties heat up.

    Faulty cables

    If there is no national power and you do not have a generator, however, things can stop altogether during the evening hours.

    That is where the faulty cable detecting vehicle that NPA has purchased comes in.

    Edward Parkinson is one of the senior technicians who works with the vehicle. He said technicians used to have to dig up entire streets trying to find broken cables. "With this new equipment, it will reduce the down time and also it will help us locate faults at a faster rate."

    He explained that the equipment in the vehicle can detect a faulty cable within a few hours. Previously, it could take weeks to figure that out.

    Scott Gavin, the deputy general manager for NPA, said his hope is the vehicle also will help the country have power 24/7 within about two years, by detecting faulty cables quickly and repairing power faster.

    "And because of the ease with which we can do it, improved technology, within an hour or two, depending on the length of cable, we are able to pinpoint the fault and then we can request for permission if it's along a road, so that excavations can take place," said Gavin.

    The vehicle is able to detect problems with medium and low voltage. And because it can be done efficiently, this means customers will have power quickly restored, and not as many people will be affected while excavations are underway.

    Effective tool

    Gavin said this device has been on the market only for about one year, and it already is being used worldwide. It costs NPA about $230,000. He said it was built in Germany by a company called SebaKMT and although various similar models have been around for decades, this new one - known as the "System Classic" - had all the features NPA needed.

    "This one we requested for a complete set, that would help us identify cables in the ground, do location [find] in the event of faults, and do the necessary tests all in one vehicle. So you drive the vehicle, it has a generator in case there's no power at that location, so you just operate the generator and you can power the equipment," said Gavin.

    This is all good news to people like Momoh Kamara, a 33-year-old who works as a caretaker at a compound in the western area of Freetown. Like many Sierra Leoneons, he cannot afford a generator and so when there is no national power provided, he just has to make do.

    "For example, when you have food, you are not able to store it more than one day, it affects that area greatly and overnight when you have problem, get a funny sound, like thieves, for you to detect [them], it's difficult because the place is dark and whenever they come around if the place is dark, he will have the chance to do whatever he wants to do, so it's terrible to live in a place where there is no electricity," said Kamara.

    Kamara also said that when it's dark, snakes slither around some houses at night and will sometimes attack.

    Gavin of the National Power Authority knows the cable-fault-detecting vehicle alone cannot bring back full power to the country, though it certainly can help.

    And that assistance is something for which Kamara and many other Sierra Leoneons are hoping.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.